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Volume 22 No. 27
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NASCAR passes on Monster extension for new model

Monster Energy offered to extend its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Cup Series for one additional year through 2020, sources say, but NASCAR rejected the overture because the sanctioning body is set on switching to a new tiered sponsorship model.

The California-based energy drink company has been title sponsor of NASCAR’s premier series since 2017 and signed a one-year extension from its original two-year deal last year, when NASCAR also revealed it was looking into switching to a system in 2020 that will go without a title sponsor for its top series and instead feature tiers of sponsorships.

NASCAR is changing to a tiered sponsorship model and will go without a title sponsor for its top series.
Photo: getty images

Monster offered to stay one additional year to give NASCAR more time to get the model ready, sources say. However, NASCAR chose to keep moving forward with the change, so Monster now is in talks about becoming a lower-level official partner. The overture from Monster signals that the company remains satisfied with the title sponsorship, which is worth around $20 million annually.

“We’re still in discussions, but we’re certainly interested and hope to stay involved in as cool a way as we can over the long term,” said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing for Monster. “NASCAR is a sport that we hope to always be in; we’re just kind of working through [negotiations with NASCAR] at this point, but things are positive.”

NASCAR executives declined to comment.

The new sponsorship model will have three tiers, with top-tier partners receiving the best assets and NASCAR asking around $20 million annually for those slots. Monster is more likely to land a second-tier slot, according to a person familiar with the talks. It’s not yet clear what NASCAR is asking for second-tier positions.

Monster has continued its relationship with longtime brand ambassador Kurt Busch this season as part of Busch’s switch to Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 1 Chevrolet. That deal is said to cost Monster approximately $5 million annually. Monster also backs rising driver Hailie Deegan, whose father Brian has a longtime relationship with the company dating to his days as a professional racer. Other endorsers in NASCAR include Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the latter of whom now represents Monster’s NOS brand.

Monster no longer being title sponsor should reopen the energy drink category for teams, which Covington said he welcomes. Overall, he said the title sponsorship deal has worked and provided solid returns.

“I think it did because we wanted impressions and exposure to a fan base we thought was our kind of people and really a good fit for Monster — and we still think that today,” Covington said. “The fans really responded well to Monster; Monster hopefully brought a fun element to NASCAR — and I feel like we’re part of the family, so in that regard it really did work. We feel at home.”